A FORMER Catholic priest now stands accused of sexually abusing or molesting 37 children while he was working in the New England, after detectives laid more charges.
David Joseph Perrett is behind bars and now faces 139 separate historical child abuse allegations from when he was a priest in the Armidale, Walcha, Guyra and wider New England area, in the 1970s, '80s and '90s.
The now 81-year-old had almost two dozen extra charges, of indecent assault on a male and buggery, laid in court on Wednesday, after further investigations by police in conjunction with the DPP.
The Leader can reveal two of those charges relate to a new alleged victim, who has come forward claiming abuse at the hands of Perrett in Lower Creek, east of Armidale.
Perrett is accused of indecent assault - the charge in place at the time - of a boy who detectives claim was about 11 or 12 at the time, near George's Junction between 1970 and 1972, while Perrett took children on a camping trip.
It's the detectives' case that Perrett was a serving Catholic priest in the Armidale area at the time.
New England police have confirmed they have taken statements in relation to 40 separate complainants - three women and 37 men - who were all young children at the time of the alleged acts of abuse in the New England and North West.
Perrett only faces charges in relation to 37 separate complainants, and charges have not arisen from the three additional statements, but Strike Force Bennett detectives confirmed investigations were continuing.
Strike Force Bennett was established to investigate claims of historical abuse before Perrett, who is now retired, was extradited by Armidale detectives from Wallangara in May 2017.
Perrett is accused of charges including sexual intercourse with a child as young as five and, if found guilty of the offences, faces life behind bars.
The extra charges were laid in court on Wednesday by New England detectives, meaning Perrett faces 139 charges. He is yet to enter pleas.
Magistrate Michael Holmes has adjourned the case to next month for committal, to see it moved to the district court.
Perrett, who was denied bail in the NSW Supreme Court in October, made no application for bail and it was formally refused.
Perrett has been behind bars since August last year when he had his bail revoked, after a magistrate found he failed to show cause why his detention was not justified - a test under the state's bail laws.